The designer coat rack with an undeniable sense of fun – this is why the Eames' Hang It All is a design icon.
The creative world can take itself rather seriously but for designers Charles and Ray Eames, play was always prioritised alongside principles of beauty and function. “They played with things, teased at them,” says grandson Eames Demetrios, who saw the process when hanging around the Eames Office as a kid. “That spirit of play distinguishes them from other designers.”
The Hang It All coat rack, released by the American husband-and-wife duo in 1953, perhaps best embodies their spirited philosophy – a colourful assembly of angled rods and balls crafted to encourage children to hang up their coats and hats.
It also expresses the Eames’ ceaseless exploration of materials – in this case, bent and welded wire. “They’d accepted the flexibility of the rod itself to create strong angles and they wanted to make them safe so they covered the ends with round balls,” says Demetrios. “Before you know it, up pops the Hang It All.”
Uncloaked, the Hang It All holds its own as an art object but when used, the rounded form of the 14 baubles and the carefully calibrated spaces between them ensure clothing hangs gently and crease-free.
Fittingly, toy manufacturer Tigrett Enterprises produced the piece under licence until 1959. Furniture companies Herman Miller and Vitra reintroduced Eames designs to their respective markets in the 1990s. And even though the Hang It All may not come with the bragging rights of the Eames lounge chair and ottoman, it remains an accessible design classic.
“It’s the most used item in my home,” says Jo Mawhinney of furniture and lighting retailer Living Edge, where the Hang It All is priced from $345. “It keeps everything off the ground and in order. It’s so strong, so cute and so sturdy.” (No such guarantees with replicas.)
Beyond the Hang It All’s form, function and practicality is the delight it brings to the everyday – exactly as Charles and Ray intended. “They said, ‘Who would say that pleasure is not useful?’” recalls Demetrios. “You need a place to hang your coats so why not make it lovely.’”